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No. 18 Utah Scores Seven Touchdowns in Win Over Arizona State

After the worst home loss since 2014, the Utes bounced back in a dominant win with a score of 55-3.
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Xiangyao Tang
The Utah Utes celebrate after defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 04, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

After a crushing loss at home, the No. 18 Utah Utes (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) remained at home to face Arizona State. With College Gameday in Salt Lake last week, the Utes suffered their worst home loss since 2014, but bounced back in dominant fashion, winning 55-3.

Recap

Utah received the ball to start the game and quickly started finding their pace. The Utes moved down the field efficiently, needing only eight plays and just over three minutes to find the endzone. Bryson Barnes found Devaughn Vele in the endzone to get the first points of the game.

Utah forced a 3-and-out on Arizona State’s first drive of the game, and Utah’s offense would get a chance to widen the lead. Utah once again marched down the field, and Barnes found Vele in the endzone for touchdowns on consecutive drives to start the game.

A 78-yard kickoff return would set Arizona State in great field position, just inside the Utah 25-yard line. Utah forced 4th and 3, and the Sun Devil’s chose to go for it, barely converting. Utah’s defense started getting aggressive, forcing a 6-yard loss and nearly adding a sack before Arizona State would settle for a 35-yard field goal.

Utah didn’t find much on offense and was forced to punt, before forcing Arizona State to punt soon after. Barnes would start the drive off with a 17-yard rush to move into Sun Devil territory, adding another 17-yard rush soon after. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Utah would push the offense back, and the Utes missed a 37-yard field goal.

The Sun Devils suffered another 3-and-out, quickly getting Utah’s offense back on the field. Utah drove down the field before settling for a field goal to expand the lead to 17-3.

A near interception by Utah was overturned, and Arizona State was forced to punt. Munir McClain made an athletic reception over a defender for a 20-yard touchdown. Cole Becker tacked on the extra point and the Utes took a 24-3 lead with under one minute left in the second quarter. The Sun Devils were forced to punt, and the game entered halftime.

Arizona State had the ball to start the second half, and Utah’s defense forced a punt. On the first play of the drive, Ja’Quinden Jackson found the endzone on a 54-yard rush to extend the lead to 31-3. Jackson went down in the endzone, suffering an apparent injury.

The Sun Devils faced a 2nd and 10 before Levani Damuni and Jonah Elliss forced a 10-yard loss, and a delay of game call extended it to 3rd and 25.

Utah was forced to punt, and Arizona State would find the endzone on the punt return before a holding call refuted the touchdown. The Sun Devils were forced back by penalties and took a deep shot on 3rdand 16 that would be intercepted by Miles Battle.

The Utes were pushed back by a false start call and settled for a 43-yard field goal to push the lead to 34-3. Arizona State was unable to move down the field, suffering a turnover-on-downs in their own territory.

The Utes took advantage of the field position, and Barnes found Landen King in the endzone for his fourth touchdown of the day. Just two minutes into the fourth quarter, Utah held a strong 41-3 lead.

Utah’s defense would force another 3-and-out and the offense returned to the field. Nate Johnson entered the game and had a 59-yard rushing touchdown on just the second play of the drive.

The Sun Devils started to move their way down the field, but a turnover-on-downs got Utah’s offense back on the field. Utah then committed their own turnover-on-downs, and Arizona State suffered yet another.

Utah drove down the field, wasting over four minutes of clock before Charlie Vincent scored on a 22-yard rush. The Utes kicked off for the final time with just eight seconds left, and Utah finished with a dominant 55-3 win.

Analysis

In terms of yards, Utah absolutely dwarfed the Sun Devils with 513 yards to 83. This was due in part to the firm wall put up by the Utah defensive line, with Damuni coming out on top in tackles. The linebacker put up 11 total tackles, followed closely by Karene Reid with seven. 

Arizona State was heavily restricted by the Utes and was allowed very little movement on the field. Up until midway through the third quarter, the Utes had more first downs than Arizona State had yards. However, this began to change as the Sun Devils were determined to come back more aggressively. Utah had 20 more first downs than Arizona State in the end, recording 26 to a measly six for the Sun Devils.

“After last week, we didn’t want to let the same team beat us twice,” head coach Kyle Whittingham said in response to the team’s loss against Oregon. “And the guys responded. It was great to see them matching the energy, and it was a team effort.”

The Utah offense held impressive possession, going 10 and 16 in third down conversions. Though Barnes didn’t record an overwhelming number of yards, the quarterback still put on a consistent and reliable performance. Barnes’ four touchdown passes in today’s game — a feat only recently accomplished by Cam Rising in 2022 — marked a new career high for the junior. In total, Barnes recorded 161 passing yards, with 56 rushing, just behind Jackson’s 111.

“The energy comes from the offense side of the ball, so if you don’t have good offense you don’t have good energy,” Barnes remarked in a post-game press conference. “It was great to feel the energy out there today.”

Barnes’ performance comes after news of his nomination for the Burlsworth Trophy was announced this week, an award given to an outstanding football player who started their college football career as a walk-on. 

The Pac-12 race continues for the Utes next Saturday, when the team travels up to Seattle to face the No. 5 Washington Huskies on November 11th. The game can be streamed on FOX and ESPN 700 AM Radio.

 

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About the Contributors
Sean Overton, Sports Editor
Sean Overton is the Editor of the Sports Desk. He is currently a senior and is majoring in Business Administration with plans to attend law school.
Abbey Thomas, Assistant Sports Editor
Abbey Thomas started at the Daily Utah Chronicle in the fall of 2022 as a Sports Writer and is now Assistant Sports Editor for the desk. She is currently studying Cultural Anthropology with a minor in history and hopes to pursue medicine one day. Abbey is a die-hard fan of Real Salt Lake and Manchester City, and loves to travel and practice photography in her free time!
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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